Monday 1 December 2014

The Postcommunion Prayers of the Missale Romanum (1970/2002): Translations and Sources

The following document is the reason why the French experimental lectionary table was finished much later than I would have liked. It isn't, strictly speaking, lectionary-based, but I thought that the idea was interesting enough to make into a freely-available resource. (And where else am I going to host it?) :-)

Please click here to view the resource!

The aim of the resource is to take each of the postcommunion prayers in the Proper of Time (i.e. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time), compare four different translations of them, and also give each of their sources. As an example, for the postcommunion for the 1st Sunday of Advent, one can see on a single page:

  • the postcommunion as it appears in the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia emendata, with the 1972 interim translation of the National Liturgical Commission of England & Wales, and the 1973, 1998 and 2011 ICEL translations of it, all in a side-by-side table;
  • the Latin source text(s) of the prayer (in this case, it is a combination of two prayers from the Veronese Sacramentary) with some very rough English translations of the source(s), alongside the prayer as it appears in the current Latin and English Missals.
Over the years, there has been much ink - physical and electronic! - spilt over some of the differences between the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms, from both (so-called) conservative and progressive viewpoints. There are quite a large number of popular and scholarly books and articles that examine issues such as the two different calendars, the differences in each Missal's Order of Mass, the changes in the rubrics, etc. Less numerous, and much less accessible, are those works that deal in some detail with the sources used in the compilation of the prayers of the post-conciliar Missal.

My feeling is that, in critical examinations of this Missal, the real spade work is only just beginning. Some prayers in the OF Missal have been taken direct from their sources and used basically 'as is'; some prayers come from sources that have been edited (some lightly, some much more heavily) before their inclusion; other prayers are effectively newly composed around one or more a phrases lifted from a source; still others are newly composed in their entirety. It is very interesting to see which sources from the ancient sacramentaries and previous Missals have been edited and how they have been edited.

Back in 1970, in article in Notitiae, Archbishop Bugnini praised what he called the "ricchissimo e splendido tesoro eucologico" (rich and splendid euchological treasures) of the new Missal.* Are these treasures quite so rich and splendid if they have been edited to fit with the perceived mentality of 'modern man'? Can the prayers of the OF Missal be meaningfully described as "treasures" if they are not quite the same as those that, in some cases for more than a thousand years, previous generations of Catholics prayed? 

Part of my aim in compiling this study resource is to help examine these sorts of questions, and to enable people to delve a little deeper into all this editing and rearranging of source material that the group responsible for the post-conciliar liturgical reforms, the Consilium, engaged in. I hope that you all find it useful and interesting!

Cf. "De Editione Missalis Romani Instaurati 'Paulus Episcopus Plebi Dei'", Notitiae 6 (1970), p. 163.

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